Big Rocks First

Big Rocks First Lots of people have heard of the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. The concept was named by a management consultant named Joseph Juran in 1906, after Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto was an Italian economist who first came across the idea of the 80/20 rule when he noticed that roughly 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced about 80% of the peas. He later observed that 20% of Italy’s land owners owned 80% of the country’s land. Over the years, this rough ratio has been observed in many contexts and has become a rule of thumb. This 80/20 rule […]

The Importance of Communication Skills

FPA Group Managing Director John Sanchez was recently interviewed by KForce about the critical importance of communication skills. While most FP&A professionals devote time to improving their technical skills every year, few spend any time honing their communication skills. FP&A professionals are routinely called upon to communicate with others in their own company and frequently must deal with people outside their organization, as well. Being effective in this communication is key to success in this role. Read the full article on the KForce website where John was interviewed.

Should I Pursue the new FP&A Certification?

Should I Pursue the new FP&A Certification? As the AFP ups the ante in their marketing of the upcoming FP&A certification discussions are bound to come up around the question of who should pursue the certification and why the FP&A instead of one of the other certifications out there. In fact, in the FP&A Linkedin group I manage there has already seen discussion around this, so here is my take. First, in the interest of full disclosure, I will be teaching the AFP’s review course for the FP&A beta exam. This may present the appearance of bias on my part, […]

Sanchez Will Teach AFP’s FP&A Exam Prep Course

The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) has selected John Sanchez to teach the inaugural AFP Certified Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis Exam Prep Course. FPA Group and John Sanchez are proud to be a part of this new certification offered by the AFP. The other certification programs that have been offered for years have focused on many other areas of accounting and finance, but none has brought together the specific knowledge and skills required to be a successful FP&A practitioner, until now. The course will start Tuesday, November 12, 2013 and will run through Thursday, February 6, 2014. This review […]

Review of iDashboard Data Visualization Demo

I recently attended an iDashboard informational webinar that included a demo of the tool. The following is my review of that webinar. For clarity, I have not tried a hands on demo, nor have I had a one-on-one demo. My review is strictly based on their webinar. Looks Like All the Rest iDashboard’s informational webinar reinforced my opinion that most of the marketing messages from most of the budgeting, data visualization and business intelligence software companies all sound the same. We can connect to any data source, our dashboards are the best you can find and our interface is so […]

AFP Launches New Learning System for FP&A Certification

The AFP’s new FP&A certification is launching a new learning system to provide those pursuing the credential with study materials for the certification exam. They will also be offering a three day intensive review course. The AFP’s learning system will include content from the reference materials they used to develop FP&A exam. Check their post on Linkedin or their website for details on the curriculum. Their discount for those registering for the beta test will be substantial, so if you are thinking about getting the credential you may want to give serious consideration to getting in on the beta test.  

Defining Driver-Based Planning 1

In a recent presentation, I made at the American Strategic Management Institute’s Budgeting and Forecasting Summit in Dallas I spoke about driver-based planning.  One of the interesting things about driver-based planning is there does not seem to be a consensus about the definition of driver-based planning.  I have seen different definitions or explanations from very credible sources, so a better way of understanding what driver-based planning really might be to look at examples.  Before we do that, let’s take a quick look at some widely publicized versions of a working definition. Alight Planning, makers of a software package created specifically […]

Leadership Tips from Political Observations

A recent article in Inc., “What You Can Learn From Romney’s Inauthenticity” paints an interesting picture of the importance of people skills to leaders of all types. Whether you are a leader in politics or business, the lesson is the same.  Lacking people skills will hurt you as a leader.  There is no way around that truth.  The article’s author, John Baldoni, gives a few simple points to learn from Romney’s shortcomings.  They are: 1. Shift the focus from you to others. 2. Let down your guard. 3. Roll with the punches. 4. Stand tall. 5. Act the part. It’s […]

Why Budgets Suck! And, what to do about it.

One of the best known quotes about budgets came from one of the best known business leaders in modern times, Jack Welsh. He said bluntly, “… the budgeting process at most companies has to be the most ineffective practice in management. It sucks the energy, time, fun, and big dreams out of an organization.” Why is that the case in so many organizations? And what can be done about it? Three of the many reasons budgets can be ineffective are: 1. Past performance used as predictor 2. Too much detail 3. False sense of security   Past performance used as […]

It’s the plan stupid!- Improving your process without spending a dime.

“It’s the economy stupid!” was a phrase made wildly famous by James Carville during Bill Clinton’s campaign for the presidency in 1992.  Never at a loss for words, Carville had a few things to say about the communication of Clinton’s campaign platform beyond just that statement.  But, let’s stay focused.  As a matter of fact, that was precisely Carville’s point. “When you say three things, you say nothing”, was another gem of Carville’s and I think this is an overstatement of the point to emphasize the importance of focusing on a single, clear message.  There is a big lesson here […]